We moved into the house we are presently living in when Adam was 3 years old. He’s 33 now, so that is 30 years… 30 years living in a house sandwiched between a front yard and a back yard. Our yard…our grass and our tree…. bushes planted next to the house, iris bulbs from Granny Merritt that bloom every year under my bedroom window.
Our home was 2 years old when we bought it from an elderly couple. He had recently cut down every tree in the front yard and all but 1 in the back. A big ‘ole sweet gum tree. As our boys grew and made friends, the front yard became THE place to be…not just for my 3, but for all the boys in the neighborhood! It was big and empty and perfect for playing football…the game of choice for every little boy around. As soon as everyone got off the bus and checked in at home….it was on to the Owens’ for the game of the day. Noisy? Oh yes! But always fun! So any time we talked about planting trees in the front yard, the boys would always beg us not to. In the long run, it was much more important to us that our boys were home where there was always an adult around, than to have a nicely landscaped front yard. I was teaching piano lessons at home in the afternoons, so the kids would play, and I would teach and all was well.***Until the neighbors next door got a border collie who thought she was supposed to herd the children instead of sheep, and barked her fool head off trying to keep them in a nice little group. Poor Barbie…she never did get ’em all rounded up!***
And the back…plenty of action here. Here was our 1 tree.
A beautiful tree, until the season of sweet gum balls. Man! do they ever hurt when you step on them! Oh, but the tree! Once we thought it was dead due to lightening, but we cut the top off and it came back…and grew and grew…and grew.
Our tree once housed a magnificent tree house, complete with ladder and tarp roof. It was big enough for 2 boys or 3 if Ian was around! Its strong limbs have held swings for boys to fly in and Moms and Dads to dream in. It has also suffered indignities. Nails pounded into its trunk…ropes choking its branches…and I once found the boys seeing who could make the highest mark on its proud trunk. I won’t spell it out for you, but they each had a version of the ‘tool’…and it involved a liquid. That should be all the clues you need.
Through the years, we’ve enclosed the garage, added 2 bedrooms and a bathroom, built a carport, added a sunroom, built another garage…then a studio and lastly an upper and lower deck. This, then became the place for cook-outs and birthday parties, a place to work on school campaigns and finally, graduation parties. And the faithful tree has cooperated by growing taller and broader and providing us with wonderful, cooling shade.
It holds beautiful tuned wind chimes and encourages the hostas to grow between its roots. It forms a shelter over the deck so this ‘wanna be’ gardener can experiment with container masterpieces.
It provides a lovely canopy to read under in the summer, its leaves carpet the ground with color in the fall, its branches show off their mighty architecture in the winter,
and in the spring it wreaks havoc on my allergies as it buds out once again.
But, now there are no little boys to dig in the dirt under its strong arms, no little knees getting scraped trying to climb high enough to touch the sky. No friends to have a picnic with on the grass, or pitch a tent to bravely spend the night ‘in the wild’.
Now the master of the yard is Scooter, the Wonder Dog. The backyard has become his domain. He is in charge of handling unwanted intruders. He does most of the planting, but it’s bones instead of seed. He makes a sweep of the yard several times a day. He terrorizes those vicious squirrels that dare to live and play in his tree. He delights in chasing the little green lizards…occasionally managing to relieve then from part of their tail. He gives the frogs a wide berth, though. He once got into a heated discussion with one…Scooter was hunkered down, inching closer…just about to teach that frog a lesson . However, he made a serious miscalculation as to the distance a frog should be kept away from the eyes of a dog. Yep, the frog had a secret weapon…and shot something into Scooter’s eyes that obviously was very unpleasant. His bravery towards frogs was gone instantly…along with a little dignity, I imagine. So, if we get invaded by an army of angry frogs…we’re on our own !
He sniffs every corner of the yard…keeping abreast of who ever dares to come near his fence. He loves to lie on the deck and soak up the sun…watching the sky and feeling the breeze. The Bible says, “Let every thing that has breath praise the Lord.” Sometimes the look on his face and his countenance make me think that this is just what he is doing.
He is old now…14 years. But, make no mistake…he is in total control of the yard…he is the KING.
And, so, if you were to drive by my house, you would think it looks like an ordinary, nothing special yard. Just like so many more in this middle class neighborhood. You would never know of the beautiful memories floating through the air…the distant sound of football being played in the front yard; the sweet memories recalled when the wind chimes sound their music. You wouldn’t see that little boy wrestle the bloom off of that iris the second it bloomed and bring it to me in a grimy hand. You would never hear our tree whispering its stories. You would never hear it calling for its little boys to come once again and play. But, this Mom hears it…and remembers.